Political row erupts after Maharashtra governor deboarded from state plane

Bhagat Singh Koshiyari told to deboard just before flight was to take off, as the state had not given its permission for use of the aircraft. The government said the governor is not allowed to use government airplanes for personal purposes, BJP accuses it of vendetta politics

Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari. | Photo: Twitter/@maha_governor

It is a “black moment” in Maharashtra’s history, lashed out Devendra Fadnavis, leader of Opposition in Maharashtra assembly at the ruling dispensation in the state for deboarding Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari from a state-owned plane, just before the flight was to take off to Uttarakhand.

Fadnavis accused the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government of “egoistic” behaviour for denying the governor, the supreme authority in the state and the one who constitutionally appoints the government in the state, permission to fly in a state-owned aircraft. People in power should realise that the aircraft belongs to the state government and is not private property, he said scathingly.

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According to a report in The Indian Express, the governor’s office had ostensibly written to the state government on February 2, seeking permission to use a state-owned airplane for the governor’s travel to Mussoorie in Uttarakhand. He was scheduled to preside over the valedictory function of the 122nd Induction Training Programme of IAS officers at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration. However, the state government had failed to respond to the communication.

As a rule, governors do not wait for permissions. After Koshiyari boarded the aircraft, he was reportedly told by the pilot that permission has not been given as yet, a source told PTI.

Finally, after a two-hour wait, the governor’s office booked him on a commercial flight to Dehradun.

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Even as the BJP called for an apology for this “insult” to the governor, political observers allege that the growing “rift” between Koshiyari and the government has led to this incident. The governor has not signed off as yet on the 12 names for nominees for the Maharashtra Legislative Council suggested by the government, it is alleged.

Denying any politics behind the episode, senior Shiv Sena leader and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut said the governing alliance would not resort to revenge politics merely because the governor hasn’t signed on 12 names for the Council. It is not reason enough to stop his plane from flying, he added. Sena leaders have also implied that the governor’s visit was a personal one and state planes were not allowed for personal purposes.

One leader even went to the extent of elaborating that the Prime Minister himself shuns VVIP culture. “Government planes can go anywhere but if the reasons are personal, not even the chief minister uses them,” said the Sena leader. However, it was pointed out that the governor wanted to survey the damage due to the Uttarakhand (his home state) glacier burst. But, the Shiv Sena was quick with a comeback that the Maharashtra Governor was constitutionally bound to Maharashtra and could easily have taken a commercial flight for the purpose.

Meanwhile, Fadnavis told reporters that it was completely wrong to make the governor step down from the aircraft. He said that the MVA behaviour is “egoistic”.

“It is only due to their ego that such incident has taken place. It’s a black moment in the state’s history,” Fadnavis said. Further, the BJP has accused the ruling alliance, made up of the Shiva Sena, NCP and Congress, of vendetta for their recent behaviour with the Governor. The MVA has always complained that Governor Koshiyari was biased against them.

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